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Mapping subtext by using thematic coordinates

Braga, Paolo 2019. Mapping subtext by using thematic coordinates. JOMEC Journal (13) , pp. 51-69. 10.18573/jomec.187

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The aim of the article is to discuss the notion of subtext in cinematic dialogue and to sketch a map of the main types of subtext, drawing on the principles common to the narrative theories elaborated by Robert McKee (1998), John Truby (2007), Dara Marks (2006), and Chris Vogler (1992). A pivotal concept in my argument will be the one of theme, as it is explained in the main screenwriting textbooks: the theme of a story is intimately connected to the protagonist’s change in relation to the values at stake. A theme consists of the values that inspire the deep dramatic construction of the character – the moral need that defines him. Building on the importance of the moral flaw of the protagonist, I will identify four types of subtext, depending on whether it lies more in the flaws of the protagonist or in a hidden agenda he has, and on whether subtext is or is not shared by all the characters in the scene. In particular, I will discuss the emotional density of subtext when it stems from the moral flaw of the protagonist and when it is not shared with other characters. This happens when the writer uses dramatic irony and plays with the idea of fate.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Publisher: Cardiff University
ISSN: 2049-2340
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 February 2019
Date of Acceptance: 1 December 2018
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2019 17:01

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